NBC Could Shake Up ‘Today’ to Launch Megyn Kelly in Fall

NBC’s plans for Megyn Kelly are starting to coalesce – and they could result in a rejiggering  of “Today,” the network’s venerable morning franchise.

NBC intends to launch a new daytime show featuring Kelly, the former Fox News primetime anchor who rose to fame by using her experience as an attorney to grill her guests, by fall, according to a person familiar with the matter. NBC has yet to decide upon a timeslot for the program, this person said, but is focusing most intently on either 9 a.m. or 10 a.m.

That means NBC could be willing to pre-empt an hour it currently devotes to its long-running morning franchise, “Today,” to make room for Kelly’s show. No decision has been made as to whether Kelly’s program would be branded as being part of “Today,” or would have its own distinct identification, this person  said.

Kelly is expected to join NBC News formally in May, this person said. She left Fox News Channel after wrapping a January 6 broadcast of her program there,”The Kelly File.”

NBC News declined to make executives available for comment. A spokeswoman for Kelly declined to comment.

The maneuver suggests NBC is hoping to use Kelly’s formidable presence to launch a new salvo in TV’s morning wars. The network had attempted to goose the fortunes of “Today’s” 9 a.m. hour by importing former “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush last year, but his involvement with a salacious 2005 outtake from “Access Hollywood” involving President Donald Trump made his position there untenable. That hour has “long been a trouble spot for the franchise,” said a person familiar with the show, and the Bush controversy “did not help.”

Making it more competitive would help NBC compete with other popular mid-morning hours, including Disney’s syndicated “Live,” hosted by Kelly Ripa. That show last year generated some controversy of its own, after ABC announced in April that Ripa’s co-host, Michael Strahan, would move to “Good Morning America” on a full-time basis. Kelly has since worked with a rotation of celebrity co-hosts – including, on the day after the recent presidential election, Megyn Kelly.

If Kelly’s program ran at 10 a.m. this person said,  the occupants of that time slot, Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, would move to 9 a.m., along with their production staff. If the show runs at 9 a.m., production staff assigned to that hour would continue to work on it, this person said. The hosts of the current 9 a.m. hour of “Today,” Al Roker and Tamron Hall, would presumably continue with other duties they have with NBC News. Roker has been an integral part of “Today” for years, while Hall anchors a show on MSNBC and appears frequently in other parts of “Today.”

Launching Kelly’s new show within one of the hours currently housing “Today” could help NBC navigate what has long been a challenge in the TV business. As more Americans work, daytime series have become challenging to launch and maintain. Syndicated talk shows led by Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric and Meredith Vieira that launched in recent years all proved to be short-lived venture.

A Kelly show housed at 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. would have the benefit of appearing in an hour that NBC programs for many of its affiliates. Had the program been syndicated, NBC would have to work with dozens of stations across the U.S. to secure good timeslot placement for Kelly’s new effort.

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